A period of silence “was observed at the draw” of the Madrid Masters on Saturday for late ATP Exec Chair & President BRAD DREWETT, who passed away Friday at the age of 54 due to complication with ALS, according to the GULF NEWS. Drewett was “instrumental in helping to secure a larger share of prize money for the journeymen of the sport who more often than not fall at the first hurdle of the four Grand Slams” (GULF NEWS, 5/4). Tennis players NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SERENA WILLIAMS and ANDY MURRAY "were among those to wear ribboned badges and gather in the Manolo Santana stadium for Drewett" (BBC.co.uk, 5/5). In Australia, Leo Schlink wrote Drewett “always seemed wiser than his calendar years, an observation not lost today as his death -- at the indecently young age of 54 -- prompted global mourning among the tennis community.” Schlink: “Truth is Drewett, a man apparently always ahead of his time, was only fleetingly a rookie. Sadly, he was only fleetingly with us.” Drewett “forged a stunningly successful tennis career -- on and off the court.” Primarily based in Sydney, Drewett “almost single-handedly unleashed the beast that is Chinese tennis.” Although his efforts “were channelled into men's tennis, Drewett's deft negotiation with Chinese government officials effectively helped trigger an explosion of interest in tennis among Chinese women.” Apart from “blazing a trail into China, which now has several world-class men's and women's events, Drewett expertly popularised the Barclays World Tour Finals.” He also “boasted astonishing political instinct” (Melbourne DAILY HERALD, 5/4).
A FOND FAREWELL: Several tennis players and industry execs took to Twitter to pay tribute to Drewett. Player ROGER FEDERER wrote, “In his short time running the ATP, he achieved a lot and his dynamic personality and steadfast loyalty to the entire global tennis family was so evident.” Player SERGIY STAKHOVSKY wrote, “The man who changed our sport,who became the 1st. president to unite players.” Player TOMMY ROBREDO wrote, “He fought for our sport til last moment.” Player JUSTIN GIMELSTOB wrote, “Drewett was a great leader and the ultimate @ATPWorldTour contributor.” USTA Chair, President & CEO DAVID HAGGERTY wrote, “Brad left an indelible mark on the game and everyone who knew him.” Player CARLOS MOYA wrote, “Probably the best ATP president, the closest to the players and the one who has achieved the most for the players in the past 30 years.” The WTA in a statement wrote, “The recent prize money increases with the Grand Slams are perfect examples of Brad's brilliant strategic management, and another example of how much he cared about our athletes and the sport's long-term growth" (ATPWORLDTOUR.com, 5/3).
A LEADER UNTIL THE END: In London, Simon Briggs wrote ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, often “manifests itself first in difficulties with speaking, and Drewett had been suffering in this way since early last year.” In recent months, he had "only been able to communicate by typing.” The issue of “finding a successor has been an awkward one, with Drewett insistent that he would continue working for as long as possible.” But it is “understood that his success in the role has encouraged the ATP to seek another internal candidate.” The two men “most likely are the respective heads of the ATP's European and American divisions: MARK YOUNG (who only missed out narrowly to Drewett in 2011) and LAURENT DELANNEY” (London TELEGRAPH, 5/4).